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Mark: We’ve Got a Sense of Humour, but We’ve Also Got a Heart

We want to strike a balance between the well-known brands you expect to find and things you can’t find anywhere else, and between the edgy and the warm and fuzzy. We’ve got a sense of humour, but we’ve also got a heart.

Tell us about yourself?

Grew up on a farm in Southern Alberta. Have been in retail for around 30yrs. Moved to Toronto from Calgary 12 years ago. I have been with Blue Banana Market for almost 9yrs. I have always loved retail.

Seeing how merchandising plays such a huge role in attracting customers. Because we are a small store working on a large scale, I have been able to take all the things I love about retail and make it our own.

I am trying to create a different retail shopping environment so no matter if you are shopping here or working here, you feel positive energy and feel amazing when you leave.

If you could go back in time a year or two, what piece of advice would you give yourself?

Never be afraid to try something new! Always think outside the box.

What problem does your business solve?

The perfect gift for any occasion. Birthday’s, Wedding, Anniversary, Retirement, Christmas, Hanukah, Graduation, Cottage, or just thinking of you!

What is the inspiration behind your business?

It is easy to find mass market items for gifts, but it is much harder to find something edgy, local, and perfectly unique for that special occasion or person.

What is your magic sauce?

We are small enough that it does not take long to bring something new in. For example, I might find a new Hot Sauce.

I can usually have that in the store and set up in less than a week depending on where it is coming from.

We also love helping out out local suppliers, from Hot Sauce to Candles, to Greeting Cards to Cleaning products and more.

What is the plan for the next 5 years? What do you want to achieve?

We have become very shop local focused and want to see more of that. You can be edgy and fun and still provide several local options for gifts.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?

Like most businesses, the pandemic was a huge challenge. We lost our Tourist guests and were in the middle of revamping our website. So we focused on local and adding products to the website.

We were closed at Christmas in 2020, so we added virtual shopping to our repertoire. A lot of our customers however missed the experience they receive by coming in to the store.

How do people get involved/buy into your vision?

We are always on the look out for new Local products. The edgier and different the better.

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